Sunday, April 3, 2011
She misses the role... cant remember the man.
When we left him, she was two years old. He had been a stay-at-home dad since she was about 7 months old because he lost his job. He had an anger problem and always struggled to keep steady employment. The plan was for him to find his "dream" job, but instead he became content to stay at home while I worked. I was concerned about his ability to care for our child while I was at work. He had a problem with anger, depression and alcohol. Not exactly the dream situation. Unfortunately it took me a long time to muster up the courage to stand up to him, and I had put our daughter at risk in his care until she was 2 years old. Unfortunately, by the time I finally stood up to him, it was too late to realistically salvage much. He had attempted suicide while caring for our daughter alone; overdosed another time on alcohol and stopped breathing several times on the way to the hospital; had a long term affair with our neighbor, plus many other unconfessed indiscretions; was addicted to getting high in what ever form he could find; and moved into the spare bedroom.
We left in spring of 09 while he was in the shower. I immediately got an emergency custody order to protect my daughter, and a restraining order to protect me. He got supervised visitation, once a week for 5 hours. He only exercised this three times, the last time being in June of 09. He hasnt seen her since, and moved back to Massachusetts to live with his dad shortly after his DUI conviction in fall of 09.
Since then, his calls became less and less with more time between call. She has had two birthdays since then. She has entered preschool and will start kindergarten this fall as a 5 year old.
What She Knows:
She knows that her daddy moved away to start things over again. She knows that he was really sick and needed someone to help him. She knows that he loves her and that I love her. She knows that her Grandma and Grandpa, Aunts and Uncles, Cousins and friends LOVE her very much.
She has been saying she misses her daddy. She last talked to him Christmas, when he called to see if she got the gifts he sent her. He talked to her for 30 seconds, then asked for me. She left a message on his voice-mail thanking him for the Christmas gifts, he never called her back. And he hasn't called since then.
When she says she misses him, I ask her what she misses about him. From her answer it is clear to me that she doesnt remember much about him. She fantasizes about the man he is. I allow that. Sometimes I tell her some of the good memories that I have of him, or the two of them, or us as a family. But it has been clear to me that she misses the role of a dad in her life, not that she necessarily misses him.
This has made me at times want to run out and find someone to marry so that she has a dad again. In fact, it was hard to break up with the boyfriend because I knew how much she adored him. I also know that I dont want to raise a woman to feel that she isnt complete without a man. That a marriage is supposed to be a commitment to partnership, and not a commitment of desperation. I want her to see that she is something of worth, and needs to be valued. Some may look at my situation of being a single parent with a child and think that I should take what I can get. But I look at my situation and see that I have something that is amazingly extraordinary, and I wont accept anyone that doesnt want to work to earn what we have to offer!!
Until that man comes along, I encourage time with her uncles and grandpa. I try to do the "dad" stuff with her. But mostly I just hold her and hug her and let her talk. I dont really know anyone in my situation. And I have read some on this... but Im mostly following my instincts, hoping I am doing right by her.